My rating: Outstanding adventure! (5/5)
I first discovered Victoria Schwab’s The Archived series through a co-worker at work. We were in raptures about the novel’s premise: a library of the dead. Yup, librarians love it when books make libraries sound cool and somewhat dangerous (because, they are, obviously). At any rate, I loved book one, The Archived, and book two was one of my most anticipated reads for this winter, and did it ever live up to expectations.
The Unbound picks up soon after the events in book one. Mackenzie’s getting ready to start at her new prep school and trying to deal with the events of the summer. She’s continuing on with her Keeper duties of sending the dead back to the archive, but the experience is now tainted by everything that happened in the previous book. Mac’s now scared to do her job. However, nightmares and a lack of sleep are making it impossible for Mac to get past what’s happened, and the nerves of starting at a new school are not helping matters. When she does start at Hyde School she’s in for another surprise, but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Her partner in crime, her fellow Keeper, Wesley Ayers (a.k.a Guyliner), also happens to be a student at Hyde Part, and Mac couldn’t be more surprised.
For readers who were looking for more Wesley in book two, they will not be disappointed. Wesley was fantastic in this book. He’s clearly more than just “Guyliner” as Mac starts to realize. It seems that there’s a lot that Wesley has been hiding from Mac, and there’s still a lot on that front to be revealed. What struck me the most with Wesley is the fact that he’s so supportive of Mac. Seriously, can we have more of this in teen literature, please??? Mac’s not always the easiest character for Wesley to like, she’s been through a lot and it really does show in how she treats people. But instead of Wesley demanding that she change or “get better” he is just there for her, something that I think it infinitely difficult to do in real life to do. So I’ve got a lot of love for Wesley.
While I do love Wesley, I think Mac really steals the show in these books. The author has done a phenomenal job creating Mac and despite her fantastical job as a Keeper, Mac’s just like any other teenager. She has problems with her parents, her job, guys and what not, and to me, this makes her such an ordinary young woman whose fallen into extraordinary circumstances. I can’t wait to see how Mac continues to develop in this series as she is fast becoming one of my favourite teen characters.
Lastly, I have to comment on the lovely writing style in this book: it is simply phenomenal. There is something lyrical and melancholic about the writing and I loved it and thought it contributed to the overall greatness of this book. Grief is a big part of the first two books in the series, and the author has done an excellent job of conveying this emotion in every page of the book.
This was an outstanding sequel to The Archived and I cannot wait to see where the author goes from here especially considering all the revelations concerning the archives and the revolution thread that has Mac thinking about her job and her superiors. Methinks change is ahead for the archives, whether the higher ups want it or not.
Shadow and Bone is more of a fantasy than The Unbound but the main characters and writing tone are similar to me. Alina, like Mac, has also gone through through some tough stuff and is trying to deal with it. If you liked the melancholic feel to The Unbound, I highly recommend Shadow and Bone.
If you like the theme of secrecy that the archives has going on, I’d recommend having a look a the historical novel, The Caged Graves. Verity returns home only to discover a whole lot of secrets surrounding the death of her mother. The Caged Graves was a really interesting book about loss and the secrets that people keep in order to protect those they love.
For more teens and tough stuff (with a zombie twist) I also recommend This is Not a Test. Sloane Price has been suffering physical abuse at the hands of her father and has been dealing with the loss of her older sister, and like Mac she’s got a lot of grief inside her and just wants to keep it hidden from view. This is Not a Test was an excellent read.